Hormones and pain

Can hormonal imbalances and low hormone levels cause muscle and joint pain?

Can Hormonal imbalances and low hormone levels cause muscle and joint pain?

Hormones and pain

Hormonal imbalances can indeed lead to muscle and joint pain.

In females the primary hormone responsible for joint protection and anti-inflammatory functions is Oestrogen.  But when Oestrogen levels drop during menopause inflammation can increase and the risk for degenerative changes like osteoporosis will go up. All this may cause painful joints.

In Males the natural ageing process in your body will also leave you with less Testosterone, but this can all be within a normal range, not causing you any problems.

However, it seems like a sudden drop in your testosterone levels will cause more problems than you might think. Some of the most common symptoms of lower levels are excessive fatigue, loss of sex drive, infertility, anxiety, depression, breast enlargement and weight gain.

You don’t have to be old to have a testosterone drop, our daily lives are very demanding. Bad sleeping habits, lots of stress, no exercise and anti-social patterns are major contributors to this problem.

When it comes to pain, Testosterone promotes bone growth and protects the bone significantly. Joint pain and low Testosterone aren’t necessarily related, but it’s possible to have both at once. Men who are obese are also at a greater risk of developing OA from excess pressure on the joints. However, Low Testosterone therapies are unlikely to relieve joint pain on their own. Feeling better usually involves treating both joint pain and low Testosterone simultaneously.

This brings us back to the real playmaker in the pain game, called cortisol.
With a drop in your ‘healthy’ hormonal levels like oestrogen and testosterone, your body will become under all sorts of stress, causing a rise in cortisol. High levels of cortisol can then cause your muscles to tense up and become painful. Increased levels of cortisol in the body are also known to make you more sensitive to pain, causing you to feel muscle and body aches and pains more easily.

What home remedies are there for muscle pain?  (Eileen Durward)

There are many lifestyle changes and self-help measures which can help to ease menopause muscle pain. These include:

Exercise. Regular but gentle exercise, such as walking, cycling or swimming can help to loosen muscle tension and lessen muscle pain. Exercise also releases feel-good endorphins. These are chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers. It can also improve your mood and the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress hormones in the body that cause your muscles to tense.

Stretching. Gently stretching your muscles can also help ease tension, stiffness and muscle pain. Mindful stretching, together with deep breathing, can also aid relaxation and reduce stress hormones in the body.

Magnesium. Low levels of magnesium in the body can cause muscle aches and muscle cramps. Magnesium is known as the relaxation mineral so it’s important to make sure you include foods which are high in magnesium in your diet, such as nuts and seeds, dried fruit, dark leafy vegetables and pulses such as beans and lentils. You can also take a magnesium supplement, either liquid magnesium or a magnesium citrate capsule – between 200 and 400mg a day.

Iron. Muscles aches can also be caused by low iron, so an iron tonic or supplement would also be worth trying. You could also try adding more iron-rich foods to your diet, such as red meat, eggs and dairy.

Diet. As well as eating magnesium and iron-rich foods, a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet can help relieve stress, anxiety and muscles tension. Eating foods that are high in calcium and potassium can also help your muscles. Potassium, which can be found in avocados, sweet potatoes, spinach and bananas, can help with muscle relaxation, whilst calcium, which can be found in kale, broccoli, cheese, milk and almonds, helps promote muscle relaxation.

Heat. A warm shower or bath is great for soothing muscles as they are a natural muscle relaxer. A heat pad or hot water bottle wrapped in a towel can help ease tension and relieve muscle pain.

Good Posture. This is really an important point but is often ignored. If your joints, ligaments and tendons are affected this can alter your whole posture, pulling on your muscles and causing both joint and muscle aches at the same time. This can happen to any group of muscles but mainly the back, shoulders and hips. Muscle changes in the shoulders can also trigger tension headaches or migraines.

There is also the theory that strained muscles in the back or a change of spinal alignment could lead to hot flushes, so if both of these symptoms started around the same time they may be connected.

Massage. A deep-tissue massage can help increase blood circulation, reduce toxin build-up and soothe muscle pain, tension and stiffness; it can also promote relaxation and reduce stress.